For the second year in a row, a healthy summer downpour showered the Close until the festivities of the Garden Party began. But the rain did little to dampen the merriment of the occasion. Neighbors and friends of General Seminary sloshed through puddles on 21 Street in their festive summer attire to come together in fellowship. And upon arrival, they were met with hospitality and a lively jazz trio that kept the pace of the celebration.
The Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle offered words of welcome to guests, encouraging everyone gathered to, “Join us. Not just today, but in September for a class. In October for the Kay Butler Gill Lecture with Westina Matthews. Or tomorrow for a prayer in our chapel, for a moment of a peace in this frantic city that we have called home for over two hundred years. Let us welcome you home to General Seminary.”
Now in its ninth year, the Garden Party has become a staple summer event to residents, as well as partners and friends of the seminary. The Chelsea Square Conservancy of General Seminary hosts this annual event to continue relationships and welcome new friends to the neighborhood that the seminary has anchored for two centuries. “The Garden Party’s purpose is not simply to open our doors once a year, but rather to bring as many neighbors and friends onto the Close so that they feel as welcomed to join us throughout the year just as much as I or anyone else does,” says Donna J. Ashley, the Vice President of Advancement.
By the end of the evening, over 250 guests toured the campus and learned about the mission of educating and forming leaders for the church in a changing world. “I have lived in New York City my entire life, and had no idea about this place,” says Nicole Tsang, 34, non-profit manager and Garden Party first-timer. “It’s shocking how peaceful and serene it is in the middle of the city.” The Barnard alumna added, “I love Columbia’s [campus], but frankly, I am glad I didn’t come here as an undergrad or I would have been jealous!”